There is a busy schedule of events and festivals to enjoy in Castleisland throughout the year. Most notably Castleisland is renowned for its Patrick O’ Keeffe Traditional Festival. This traditional Irish music festival pays homage to the late fiddle player Patrick O’Keeffe “Sliabh Luachra” style of playing every October. It attracts traditional musicians from Ireland and overseas and it is a wonderful and welcoming festival for visitors of all ages who will enjoy incredible music sessions and make new friends. But that is not the only event to look forward to, from the World Fiddle Day to the Castleisland Summer Fest to the great tradition of a Fair Day, Castleisland delivers time and time again.
March - St. Patricks Day
The National Day of Celebration on the 17th of March is one to enjoy every year in Castleisland. The town is resplendent and festooned in the Irish colours as the young and the young at heart enjoy a wonderful St. Patricks Day parade through the town. It is a great day for pipe bands, local sporting groups, local businesses and the like to come together to entertain the crowds as they line the street to celebrate this national holiday.
May - World Fiddle Day Scartaglin, Castleisland
This international music festival celebrates the Sliabh Luachra Fiddle Tradition and has welcomed participants from the USA, Korea, Japan, Holland, the UK and of course Ireland coming to celebrate a great tradition in Irish music. Throughout the festival there are wonderful sessions and a star-studded concert to enjoy.
The festival is a wonderful blend of tradition, celebrating recitals such as “Handed Down through the Airwaves” which is hosted by RTE Radio 1. Radio Eireann’s role in handing down the tradition and music, from the 1940’s to 2022, is explored and discussed.
This festival is both a learning opportunity for musicians and a great celebration of traditional fiddle music, as musicians from far and wide play together throughout the weekend.
June - Castleisland Summer Fest
This new four-day festival in Castleisland is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the start of the summer season. The Gig Rig provides live open-air music, with renowned acts such as Frances Black and Declan Buckley. The Humphrey Murphy Memorial 5k Fun Run takes place on the Friday of the festival, with more live music and social dancing to enjoy that evening.
There is a street flag day on the Saturday, in aid of local charitable causes. With a historical walking tour early evening on the Saturday. In the 2022 festival there was an official launch of the “Castle of the Island” documentary presented by Robert McGuire. Saturday evening provides more live music on the Gig Rig and concerts at local venues.
July - Castleisland Races
Castleisland Horse and Pony Races now the oldest Race meeting in the country in their 163rd year. This is a great family day out, with face painting and bouncy castle for the kids. The Races feature a 10-race card with all the top jockeys taking part. So, eyes down and place your bets.
October - Patrick O’Keeffe Traditional Music Festival
Sliabh Luachra, long acknowledged as more a state of mind than a geographical entity in north Kerry, has spawned more than its share of remarkable musicians: Jackie Daly, Johnny O’Leary, Denis Murphy, Julia Clifford, Paddy Cronin and the great blind fiddler, Tom Billy Murphy, to name but a few. But there can no disputing that Patrick O’Keeffe sits in centre stage in that gathering. O’Keeffe’s repertoire has seeped into the collective subconscious of traditional musicians, thanks to the Seamus Ennis recordings of 1948/49 and later Ciarán Mac Mathúna.
This festival pairs tutors with musical students, provides live music sessions throughout the town, honours musicians with the Dedication to the Music of Sliabh Luchra award and provides and lively and engaging session trail during the festival. Due to its wide appeal the festival will be a week-long celebration in 2022.
November - Castleisland Horse Fair
Castleisland’s annual horse fair occurs on the 1st of November each year. The fair takes place on the main street where horses, ponies, donkeys, other animals, and equipment are for sale. This ancient Fair takes it rightful place from early morning and each year people travel from the four corners of Ireland to Castleisland. A wonderful tradition that has stood the test of time.